The Science Behind Staying Cool: Understanding Insulation and Air Sealing in Summer

As the temperature climbs and the days lengthen, staying cool becomes a top priority for homeowners. The first line of defense against a hot home is often assumed to be the air conditioner, and many homeowners know they will pay the price at the end of the month when it comes time to pay the energy bill. 

At Energy Savers, we often encounter homes where the battle against the heat is lost before it even begins, due to overlooked aspects of building science—namely insulation and air sealing. Understanding these elements can not only improve your home’s comfort but also its efficiency and durability during the hottest months of the year.

How Insulation Works to Keep You Cool

Insulation works as a barrier that slows heat transfer between your home and the outside environment. During summer, the primary goal of insulation is to prevent the high outdoor temperatures from infiltrating your indoor spaces, primarily through the attic and crawl space. High-quality insulation materials like fiberglass, cellulose, or spray foam are effective because they disrupt these heat transfer processes – primarily by conduction – but that isn’t the only way a home will get hot in the summer. Three types of heat transfer happen in a home:

Types of Heat Transfer

Conduction: This is the process by which heat moves through materials. In your home, this could be the heat transferring from your hot roof to your cooler attic spaces through the ceiling.

Convection: This occurs when heat is carried through air currents. In poorly insulated homes, hot air can circulate into cooler areas, raising the overall temperature.

Radiation: Heat can also travel in electromagnetic waves and warm anything solid that absorbs it, such as your roof absorbing sunlight.

The Role of Air Sealing in Thermal Comfort

While insulation is key in slowing down heat transfer, air sealing targets another critical aspect of thermal comfort: unwanted air leakage. Air sealing involves finding and closing gaps, cracks, and holes in your home’s envelope—the physical barrier between the conditioned interior and the unconditioned exterior environments, putting a plug on heat transfer by convection.

What Air Sealing Does

Controls Air Quality: Uncontrolled leaks can bring in humid, unfiltered outdoor air along with pollutants and allergens.

Enhances Comfort: Leaks can lead to drafts and hot spots within the home, undermining the effectiveness of your air conditioner or heat pump.

Increases Energy Efficiency: When conditioned air leaks out, your air conditioner has to work harder to maintain the desired temperature, leading to increased energy consumption.

Strategically placed sealants like caulk and expanding foam, along with weatherstripping around doors and windows, ensure that the air you pay to cool stays inside. This controlled environment not only helps in maintaining consistent indoor temperatures but also reduces the strain on your HVAC system.

Reduce Your Cooling Load, Reduce Your Energy Bills!

By investing in energy efficiency upgrades such as better insulation and comprehensive air sealing, you significantly reduce the cooling load of your home. These improvements minimize the amount of heat that enters and accumulates within your living spaces, thereby reducing the demand placed on your air conditioning system. With less heat to remove, your air conditioner can operate more efficiently and for shorter periods, which directly leads to lower energy consumption and costs. 

Moreover, these upgrades not only decrease the operational strain on your cooling systems but also extend their lifespan by preventing overuse. By addressing the efficiency of your home’s envelope first, you set the stage for more sustainable, cost-effective cooling solutions that benefit both your wallet and the environment. 

Get Professional Insulation and Air Sealing with Energy Savers

At Energy Savers, we understand that a cool home is a must during the oppressive heat of summer. By investing in proper insulation and building-science-informed air sealing, you can enjoy a more comfortable, healthier, and more energy-efficient home. Ready to take the next step towards a cooler summer? Contact us at Energy Savers, and let’s make your home the cool oasis you deserve.

Get the most out of your air conditioner when you insulate and air seal your home. Call Energy Savers at (315) 437-3008 to get started.

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